Posts Tagged ‘MIT’

USC, here I come!

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

I am starting my master’s education in chemical engineering this fall at USC. The catch? I’ll be working full-time at the same time!

The thought about whether or not I was going to pursue higher education had been stressing me out since before I even graduated from MIT. The “advice” I’d heard from most people was that the longer you wait, the less inclined you are to leave your cozy job. I felt myself falling into the same trap. The longer I wait, the more difficult it will be to find the initiative. I like my current job, and it keeps better and better as I am given more responsibility and complicated plants. I’ve already learned so much that I couldn’t have learned in school, and the master’s classes I’ll be taking will help supplement that knowledge, now that I have a better idea of why the heck they taught us all that stuff in undergrad. It will also put me in a better position should I consider obtaining a PhD in the future. For now it’s all up in the air.

The thought of working and going to school scares me a bit. I barely find time outside of work now; how will I do with grad-level classes added on top of it? Do I continue the weekly choir rehearsals and violin lessons? Do I put off hanging out with friends even more than I do now? Whenever I am faced with these questions, I tell myself, “I had one semester where I took seven MIT classes and had a colorful social/romantic life. If I got through that, I could get through anything!” Seriously, my MIT experience is a reminder that I’m capable of a lot more than I think I can handle.

What does this all mean for you, the reader? I will have even less time to blog! I find, though, that the more I have on my plate, the better I am at managing my time (also, procrastinating). It’s not like I blog often now anyway, so this will probably have a minimal impact on your lives. Phew!

The one thing I can’t wait for is the student discounts for concert tickets again! As a frequent concert-goer, that was the most discouraging thing about being out of school.

MIT Energy Conference Nuggets

Monday, April 4th, 2011

I went to the 6th annual MIT Energy Conference this past month, partly because I had missed Boston, and partly because MIT alumni had a registration discount. Similar to my sustainability conference blog post last year, here’s a smattering of takeaway messages I got out of it.

But first, an image. This was the only picture I snapped all weekend, during the Friday Night Showcase of hundreds of new energy technologies. Naturally, I was drawn to the oil and biofuels panels, but I made my rounds through all the exhibits. The big round thing was some sort of floating wind turbine.

The conference had quite a military focus, which brought in a different perspective for the motivation for innovations in energy. The keynote speaker Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus’s speech was particularly striking with the main idea, “Energy is fundamentally an issue of national security.” The most staggering factoid: Every time oil prices increase by $1, the Navy spends an extra $31 million due to the steep cost of transporting and guarding fuel to remote areas like Afghanistan. Therefore, the Navy’s goal is to obtain 50% of its energy from alternative sources by 2020. 17% of the energy is already obtained from nuclear power. Since energy diversity leads to energy security, the military is taking leadership in energy innovation.

One panel discussed the impacts of Obama’s goal of having one million electric vehicles in the U.S. fleet by 2010. The speakers mentioned considerations for Seattle’s electric vehicle infrastructure (70% of charging stations will be residential, there will be 1.4 charging stations per electric vehicle, software integration for finding and/or reserving chargers, etc.). The message that stuck with me from this one was that the increase in electric vehicles is not large enough to require a new power plant until 2/3 of the fleet is electric. The greater concern is around upgrading the local circuits (transformers, etc.).

Another panel that caught my attention was one around upcoming renewable fuels technologies. One company, called Joule Unlimited, is developing energy obtained from sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water, utilizing alternative metabolic pathways with genetic engineering – the speaker threw out the term “industrial photosynthesis.” Their goal is to derive a closed carbon cycle like how nature intended it to be. Sun Catalytix also sounded confident in displacing fossil fuels with the promise of harnessing energy from water. ARPA-E also funds non-photosynthetic technology for biofuels. All piqued my interest.

The conference itself was very well organized and executed by a team of around a hundred current MIT students. They had even prepared fact sheets for various energy sources and handed them out to each conference attendant, along with a tote bag and a mug. I also ran into two MIT alum friends that work in energy, whom I didn’t know were in Boston, which was a plus!

This blog entry doesn’t really do the conference justice, but the conference did enable me to explore the cutting edge research and development taking place in energy by participating in awesome discussions I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise. For instance, I met several people who had worked in oil companies for 20 years before transferring into these interesting start-ups to help develop and scale up the technology. Sounds pretty awesome; I’d be down for that sometime in the future!

So Jealous.

Monday, April 4th, 2011

During my intense marathon of reading through and tagging all 10 years of my blog posts a few months ago, I noticed that I did not mention MIT once here since graduating almost four years ago. This came as a shock to me, because I’m still quite involved with the Institvte by serving as a volunteer (secretary, specifically) in our local alumni club. I’ve also visited MIT three times since graduation.

2011 is a special year for MIT, as it is the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Institute. The sesquicentennial is being celebrated over several months with festivals, symposia, and various events, collectively called MIT150. And here I am, sitting in Los Angeles, drooling over all the events and cursing my life for not being in Boston right now.

The event that is making me salivate the most is FAST: Festival of Art, Science, and Technology, which spans three months. Yes, MIT does have arts, and even music majors, of which I was one. The item of most interest is the New Music Marathon on April 15th, which, regrettably, I can’t make. Guys, this concert is THE CONCERT OF MY DREAMS. It is a five-hour marathon of new music, with Kronos Quartet, Bang-on-a-Can, Wu Man, Gamelan Galak Tika, and MIT Chamber Chorus! When else in life is the world going to be blessed with such a lineup?! I seriously considered buying plane tickets to Boston just to make that concert and fly back the following morning, but, alas, it is on the same day as a special person’s birthday, and I have to perform in a choir concert that weekend. I also just visited Boston not even a month ago, so I thought it might be a bit of a waste. After weeks of suffering through the painful decision process, I’ve managed to let it go. Could they have it as a webcast?! My, that would be lovely.

I mentioned that I was in Boston recently. While there, I did catch one FAST concert, the Language of Music concert on March 5th. This concert was a special treat, because the program was comprised of compositions entirely by MIT music professors I had studied under. Justin and I enjoyed ourselves immensely as we explored the beautifully distinct styles of each of our ex-professors. I was glad to find out that they still remember me, too. I’d like to think of it as a consolation prize for not being able to make the April 15th concert. Please excuse me while I go into my corner and sulk some more.

Carol of the Bells – v.0

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

This year I decided to arrange a Christmas carol. My main inspiration was Bill Cutter, our choir director back at MIT, who had his own tradition of arranging a Christmas carol each year. So I rolled up my sleeves and messed around with Carol of the Bells! To spice things up, I wrote it in (mainly) a 19/8 meter, for two voices and piano.

Carol of the Bells (1:51)

Don’t be freaked out by the 19/8 time signature. It’s just 10/8+9/8 put together (with some other meters thrown in occasionally). I’d been meaning to write something in an unconventional meter, but hadn’t really put in the effort. In addition, I hadn’t written a “fast” piece in forever, so this piece presented me with the opportunity to explore both ideas.

It’s my second time arranging a carol – the last time was in 2007, when I arranged Joy to the World in Dorian mode (which I would love to hear performed someday).

I need your help, though; I couldn’t find a good name for it! Should I keep the name as Carol of the Bells or call it something clever?

Sunday, March 5th, 2006

This semester is very intensive in music, and I love it so far. I’m taking three music classes, one which focuses on early music (from the years 800-1500), one which focuses on music after 1960, and one in which I’m writing a piano sonata (we’ll be writing string quartets during the second half). I’ve also been going to a lot of concerts.
Sometimes I have difficulty evaluating music that I listen to, but today I realized that the best way to remedy that is to go to concerts with friends. Today I went with a music major senior, and she knows all the professors closely, so we sat with one of them. During the breaks, we exchanged our ideas and opinions and I got a lot out of it.
Tonight is nice. There’s a listening quiz on Monday, so I’m listening to some pieces by Ligeti, Partch (who made his own instruments — click here and here for examples — to his own tuning system, which splits the octave into 43 scale degrees instead of the conventional 12), and others (I haven’t gotten to them yet). I made myself a pot of vanilla tea. Before that, I had a cup of coffee. The instant coffee I bought today is the most vile-tasting thing I’ve ever drunk.

That is not to say that I’m not doing any science. I have a biochemistry test on Monday, and I’ll be doing some programming on Matlab to solve batch reactor problems.

Wednesday, March 1st, 2006

This week’s been crazy. I’m sure that I’ll have crazier weeks, though. I had told you that I’d talk a little about my classes, so I’ll do it now. I’m taking the following: Chemical Kinetics and Reactor Design (10.37), Biochemistry (7.05), Japanese 4 (21F.504), Early Music (21M.220), Writing in Tonal Forms II (21M.304), Music After 1960 (21M.263), Visualizing Cultures (21F.027), Chamber Chorus (21M.405).
You realize that this is eight classes (well, technically seven and a half because of choir). The average number of classes that people usually take is four or five, but all of the classes I’m taking are because I either need to, or because it’s the only time that particular professor will be teaching it.
The work I have to do is getting intense, but I’m enjoying all of the classes so much that I don’t want to drop any of them. As a result, it seems like I won’t have much time to do anything else this semester, and I’m fine with that… for now.

Thursday, February 2nd, 2006

I have a few things to say today:

I finally got my Brass Rat (the MIT class ring) yesterday:

I’ve been waiting for it for weeks!

I had participated in an MIT ringtone competition, and I was selected as one of the finalists! Go here to see the results. You can listen to mine if you scroll down (my username is melike). I did the Engineers Drinking Song, which is an MIT song that’s been around for quite a while. The Chorallaries sing it.
Since I was a finalist, I was invited to be a judge for the next competition, and I’m thinking of accepting it. It would be fun.

I also put up a new composition; it was a final project for theory class last semester. I actually have two more recordings to put up from last year; I’m waiting for my teacher to send me the mp3s.

Saturday, January 14th, 2006

I was reading through all my quotes, and realized that I’m not doing all that badly at MIT. My grades are decent, and my quotes page contains a bunch of nerdy quotes. There are categories called biology, chemistry, math, and engineering. So I suppose that I enjoy that kinda stuff. haha. I really need to rest my eyes now, so goodbye.

Tuesday, December 13th, 2005

My art song was due this afternoon for my music class, and I had originally planned on finishing it up over the weekend, but it took me much longer than expected. So, I wrote music last night from midnight until 9am, and then it was time for me to shower and show my work to my professor so I could make minor changes before the 5pm due date. Our songs are going to be performed and recorded tomorrow, so I’m excited. Anyway, the professor liked my piece, and didn’t even suggest any changes. It’s so funny; I wrote the entire third of the song from 5am to 9am, and I seriously didn’t recognize it when he played it. I don’t remember what I did there; all I remember was that it took me two hours to find a good melody, and then I skipped from spot to spot because I kept getting stuck harmonizing.. which leaves me with no memory of what it was that I actually wrote.

I also ordered my Brass Rat (MIT’s class ring) today. I hadn’t gotten around to it last year. It should be here in a few weeks. I’m excited. I ordered the white gold version.

Thursday, September 1st, 2005

I gave Jeff (from high school) a tour of MIT today. I showed him Noam Chomsky’s office and he was happy about that.